Baby Q&A

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents - Sr Burgie Ire­land

Q: My new­born baby has jaundice. What is it and what are the longterm ef­fects?

A: Sr Burgie an­swers: Baby jaundice, or phys­i­o­log­i­cal jaundice, hap­pens quite of­ten in a new­born. The baby looks yel­low 24 hours af­ter birth, and this spreads from the face to the body over the next four or five days. The level of jaundice is checked with heel-prick tests and your baby may come home with you if jaundice lev­els are nor­mal and stable. Oth­er­wise, your baby will be put un­der the pho­tother­apy or “blue lights’’– this is also pos­si­ble to do at home us­ing mo­bile pho­tother­apy lights.

A rarer type of mild jaundice, called

breast­milk jaundice, can hap­pen a few weeks af­ter birth, which re­solves by the time the baby is six weeks old. Moth­ers with ba­bies who have breast­milk jaundice are ad­vised to con­tinue fre­quent breastfeeding to en­sure that the baby does not be­come sleepy or lethar­gic. If the jaundice is look­ing worse, take your baby for an­other biliru­bin test.

More se­ri­ous jaundice can hap­pen when there is a blood group in­com­pat­i­bil­ity, if the baby has an in­fec­tion or there is a liver prob­lem. This jaundice be­gins af­ter four days and be­comes pro­gres­sively worse. The baby’s urine also be­comes very dark with pale stools. If this hap­pens, it’s im­por­tant to con­tact your doc­tor. YB

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